ELLINWOOD — A bomb threat was called into Ellinwood District Hospital early Wednesday morning. The threat turned out to be phony, but all patients and staff were evacuated while a search was conducted.
"The hospital received a phone call, and a person advised that there was a bomb set to go off," said Ellinwood Police Chief Art Keffer. The hospital called 911, and police officers and Barton County Sheriff’s Office deputies were dispatched to the hospital, he said.
"Employees escorted us through the building, and everything appeared to OK," said Keffer. He added that the police have some viable suspects that they are investigating.
"The bomb threat was called directly to the hospital at 8:25 a.m.," said EDH Hospital Administrator Joyce Schulte. Almost simultaneously, the hospital called police, instituted their bomb-threat plan, and evacuated the hospital, she said.
"Everyone knew what to do," she said. The 12 patients and approximately 25 staff members were evacuated to the Ellinwood Hospital Clinic which is about 100 feet away from the hospital. The patients were wrapped in blankets and remained at the clinic for an hour while the search was conducted throughout the hospital, both inside and outside, including storage buildings.
The clinic was chosen as the evacuation location because it was locked down all night. "We were sure it was okay, or the patients would have been taken elsewhere," said Schulte.
Schulte has been at the hospital for three years. "It’s (bomb threat) has never happened here before," she said, although she has been through a bomb threat at another institution.
The patients were back in the hospital by 9:30 a.m.